Over seventy lawmakers sent letters to the Biden Administration asking the administration to stop a recent court order from harming U.S. hog farmers. The letters call on Agriculture Secretary Vilsack and Acting Solicitor General Prelogar to appeal a recent federal district court striking down pork harvest facility line speeds allowed under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s New Swine Inspection System (NSIS).
The court order, set to go into effect on June 29, will lead to pork industry concentration and increased market power for plant operators at the expense of small hog farmers. The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) is calling for a longer stay of the court order and/or waivers that would allow the six impacted plants to continue operating at NSIS line speeds until a long-term solution acceptable to all industry stakeholders can be established.
The court decision will result in a 2.5 percent loss in pork packing plant capacity nationwide, and more than $80 million in reduced income for small U.S. hog farmers, according to an analysis by Iowa State University Economist Dr. Dermot Hayes.
The NSIS, initiated during the Clinton administration and evaluated at five pilot plants over 20 years, was approved for industry-wide adoption in 2019. NSIS modernized an inspection system that had remained unchanged for more than 50 years. NPPC notes that at a time when the U.S. needs more pork harvest capacity, the court order will reduce plant capacity at six plants running at NSIS line speeds by as much as 25 percent.
The letters to the administration say that USDA data comparing worker injury data between 2002 and 2010 shows that the NSIS program led to fewer worker injuries over time and fewer injuries when compared to their non-NSIS counterparts.
Copies of the letters are available here.